Wednesday, November 18, 2009


*Many, many thanks to those of you who left comments on my post yesterday. Your kind wishes meant a great deal to me. I'm continuously amazed at the support of this wonderful online writing community.*

I spent most of yesterday in a state of fear; a lump in my stomach (which erased any sense of hunger), a heightened sense of awareness, short temper and feeling as if I was holding on to my sanity by my fingernails. It wasn't a good day. I dealt with the aftermath of a tree hitting our house the best I could; I got our electric wires reattached to the house, phoned about our cable service being fuzzy and surveyed the giant tree now covering our side yard. Luckily, none of the tree is touching our house and the only damage seems to be a broken gutter. However; another windstorm is supposed to hit tonight and there's still the other half of the tree standing in our neighbour's yard. I'm still terrified.

On the plus side, I can now write how characters would feel when everything goes out of control. Their tempers flare. Emotions rise to the surface. They would jump at the smallest noise. Despite the awfulness of yesterday, there was a part of my brain saying "You can use this. It will make your writing better." I guess if you're a writer you think about how to describe everything; or I certainly do!

Think about your characters and the situations you put them in. Do they have anyone to lean on or do they have to be frightened by themselves? How would they handle fear? How does it affect their relationships? Do they feel they must be brave for the sake of others or do they collapse?

Recognise how you deal with situations and use it in your writing. I believe the more real your characters the better your story.


  1. Wow! Glad the damage wasn't worse, but so sorry you had to go through this. We had the same kind of thing happen 10 years ago - tornado dropped a hundred foot oak on the back of our house. I know those sensations you describe.

    Incidentally, fear is a big theme in my novel. One character has stage fright and other anxieties that worsen through the book. I realize that in my rewrite, I need to examine how I am describing the effects of those fears.

    I hope the other part of that tree stays away from your house and that everything will be back to normal quickly.

  2. Another very appropriate analogy, Elspeth! I say this often, but I really do enjoy reading about how writers and authors USE everyday situations and incorporate knowledge, feelings, circumstances into their characters.

  3. I bet it scares you to death every time you look at that tree. Great material...but what a way to get it!

    It's different, isn't it, when you're afraid and you're alone than when you have someone with you to share the horror. I do tend to isolate my protagonist away from her friends and support groups when I want her to be afraid.

    Hope things start looking up for you soon!


  4. abouttothunder; If you ever need help with the stage fright aspects, get in touch. I was around it for years.

    Crystal; I was looking for anything good yesterday. That's what I found.

    Elizabeth; It is different handling it on your own. Much more intense.

  5. I have such a fear of trees falling on the house- ever since I was a child. Not sure why. I'm scared just thinking about it.

    BTW- I love this little map with your visitors- am I the only visitor for Africa? That's kind of cool.

  6. Karen; Yes, please. Fingers crossed.

    Lauri; Isn't the map cool? I love checking it. Yes, you have Africa all to yourself. Wow.

  7. Well we can't blame the tree, it was just standing there, we can't blame the wind the atmospheric conditions confused wind's brain, we can't blame the..

    Looking at the tree when it fell here earlier this year put fear in my mind. I guessed I blamed the tree, because I took it down. Mental note: Take your fears and let your characters have it.

    I'm glad you are ok and your house too.

  8. Capturing true fear is difficult. Almost as hard as writing comedy.

    Whether this second storm, Elspeth. Tree stay put, please!

  9. Journaling Woman; It's the loss of control that's driving me batty; I'm not handling this well.

    Elizabeth; Yes, yes, yes, tree stay put! I can write comedy (or so I've been told), let's hope I can write fear.

  10. Glad to read that the damage was not terrible from the tree coming down. We are surrounded by pine trees and every storm makes me fearful. But I love the trees the rest of the time and can't bring myself to take them down.

    And it is so true that we, as writers, always have a slightly different perspective on life's adventures. How do we apply them to characters?

  11. So good you sustained minimal damage. Fear is definitely an emotional issue so it's one that is individual. Each of us handles it differently, and so should our characters.

  12. Elspeth - I am so, so glad your damage wasn't severe. What a scary time for you! Funny you would mention the whole concept of fear. It's such an integral part of mystery fiction. My own sleuth, Joel Williams is married (happily), so he and his wife support each other, but I agree with you that it's an interesting idea to experiment with what our characters do with their fear.

  13. I like your silver lining. I'll be keeping you and your family (and your house!) in my thoughts tonight as well. Good luck.

  14. Maryann; It was the same for me when I was acting. I was always reminding myself 'remember how this feels. You can use it.'

    Carol; I think all we can do is apply our own experiences in our writing. Who else's have we experienced?

    Margot; I think every mystery has some element of fear. If there's no fear there's no danger; which strikes me as rather dull.

    Jemi; Thank you so, so much. It's truly appreciated.

  15. Absolutely agree. What's that old saying, "The difference between a hero and a coward is one is afraid and runs, the other is afraid but goes ahead anyway." Something like that. Even a great heroic protagonist should know fear to be "real." and the story should be written that way.

    Marvin D Wilson

  16. I have been offline for more than a week now, and am still in the process of catching up.
    Belated, I know, but my thoughts are with you. And while I would rather experiences such as this not happen to you, I am glad you are taking the positive out of it.


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